George W. Bush photo

Remarks Following Discussions With President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil in Brasilia

November 06, 2005

President Lula da Silva. Your Excellency, George Bush, President of the United States of America, and Mrs. Laura Bush; my dear wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva; ladies and gentlemen; members of the delegations of the U.S. and of Brazil; the journalists from Brazil and journalists from the U.S. and journalists from other countries who are also here: The presence of President Bush here with us expresses to a very high degree the intensification of the dialogs between our governments.

In December 2002, before I took office, President Bush was kind enough to receive me at the White House. In June 2003, I was with him once again in an important working meeting in Washington. We had several meetings also at international meetings during these almost 3 years that I've been in government. We have exchanged letters, and we have—we've spoke several times over the phone. Today's visit is a privileged opportunity for us to discuss many issues in our bilateral relations, as well as regional and global issues around which we can work together.

I wish to express publicly a few considerations on relations between the U.S. and Brazil in the more general framework of our foreign policy. I have often said that our foreign policy is not just a way of projecting Brazil into the rest of the world; it is also a fundamental element for our nation's project of development.

During these 34 months of my administration, we have worked very hard to come closer to our South American brothers. We have intensified bilateral relations with all countries in the region. We have expanded and strengthened the MERCOSUR. We have created the South American Community of Nations. We have maintained excellent relations with the countries of the Caribbean as well as Central and North America. We have pushed for very active policies in Africa, a continent I have visited several times and been to 14 countries. We are the—our country has the second largest black population in the world, and we have a historical debt to the African Continent.

Brazil has also opened up to the Arab world, the main result of that opening being the summit between South America and Arab countries. We strengthened our relations with major emerging countries such as China, India, Russia, Korea, and South Africa.

We have not stopped opening new frontiers. The results of that opening have been unprecedented growth in our foreign trade, the attraction of new investments, and the internationalization of our own companies. But that quest for new horizons has not compromised our relationships with major developed countries such as the European Union, Japan, and obviously, the United States of America.

When I was elected President, there were those who foresaw the deterioration of relations between Brazil and the U.S. They were roundly mistaken. On the contrary, our relations today are going through one of their best moments ever. Economic and trade relations have expanded very much, and our political dialog has gained a much higher quality. We, the United States and Brazil, understand our economic and political importance as well as the responsibilities they imply. We defend our national interests and our general political values. Our self-respect strengthens our mutual respect. When each country values its own sovereignty, we are able to respect the sovereignty of other countries as well.

The understandable differences and points of view on issues of the regional or global agendas have been discussed frankly, with no surprises or confrontations. I wish to recognize how President Bush, his Secretary of State, and other top officials of the U.S. administration have contributed to making this environment of cordial relations become even better.

Mr. President, our peoples share common outlooks on absolutely fundamental issues, such as the defense of democracy, the spread of freedom, and respect for human rights. We have had dialog on crucial themes for two nations that are committed to the challenges of peace and of globalization. International security, development aid, the balance of trade rules, and the reform of the multilateral system in the United Nations, in particular, have been at the core of our conversations. We have been known how to emphasize our affinities. We are two major, multiethnic democracies, with the vocations for cooperating in promoting full citizenship and fighting all forms of discrimination.

The presence of a large Brazilian community in the U.S. enriches the tradition of mutual contact and the admiration between our societies. Good dialog between our immigration authorities will be fundamental for guaranteeing fair and balanced treatment for those who are the true bridges between our countries.

We also spoke very much about what we could do to promote the progress and well-being of other countries. We are working hard in favor of development, particularly in Africa. In Haiti, where Brazil is heading the U.N. stabilization mission, we have collaborated in emergency programs in the areas of health and basic sanitation. We are involved in achieving the full success of national elections that will open the way to normality, in political terms, and the return to economic and social development for Haiti. And we are involved—it is also important that the economic aid that's been promised to Haiti arrive quickly.

President Bush and I have the same optimistic vision on our bilateral relations. There have been many advances following our first meeting in 2003. The working groups that we created on growth, agriculture, and energy have brought significant results. And we have now decided to advance in other strategic fields. We will begin high-level cooperation in science and technology and intensify our educational partnerships in areas such as biodiversity and agriculture. In the area of health, we will be opening up new fronts for cooperation to fight diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, and threats such as the avian flu pandemic.

Our partnership is grounded on solid economic basis. The United States are the largest individual partner of Brazil as the largest market for our exports and our main source of direct overseas investment. Our exchange has grown at rates of 7 percent per year. In 2004 alone, we received $4 billion in investments from the United States.

We carry on tranquil and mature discussions on specific issues that always come up as part of any partnership on this scale—on a scale like this. We are working to negotiate the removal of unjustified barriers to our bilateral trade, and we are working in the same spirit to achieve multilateral economic and trade discussions.

The successful conclusion of the Doha round by the end of 2006 is a priority for the United States as much as it is for Brazil. We agree that the reduction, with a view to the elimination of agricultural subsidies, will be a key to balance in that round. I thank President Bush for his words of support for Brazil's determination to contribute to development and stability in our region.

It is for all of these reasons that we are very glad to see the U.S. willingness to include Brazil amongst those countries with whom Brazil—the United States has a strategic and privileged dialog. President Bush, what we leave for history is more than our immediate decisions. What really matters are those initiatives that take into account future generations as well as the need for us to face and overcome the major challenges of our time. Brazilian foreign policy transcends governments.

At the same time we defend our national interest, we pursue major democratic values in the international sphere. In that sense, I once again insist that U.S.-Brazil relations are fundamental, and their improvement is a legacy that we should leave to those who will come after us.

Thank you very much.

President Bush. Mr. President, thank you very much. Laura and I are really pleased to be here on our first visit to Brazil. My only regret is that I'm not able to travel around a lot of your country to see the vast beauty of Brazil. It's a spectacular part of the world, and I want to thank you for your invitation to come here. The President promised to take me fishing—of course, he said, after I'm President. The entourage is a little big to go fishing while I'm President.

But Mr. President, Laura and I appreciate the hospitality that you and Mrs. Marisa have shown us. We're also looking forward to good old-fashioned Brazilian barbecue. It will remind me of home.

We—let me start off by saying that the President is right: Relations between Brazil and the United States are essential, and they are strong. We've had many constructive discussions. I remember the first time you came to the Oval Office, and I was most impressed by your strong commitment to your program of Zero Hunger. It struck me as not only sincere but reflecting your deep compassion for the people. And since then, we've had the capacity to sit down and talk about issues that are important for not only our respective countries but the world. And I want to thank you for that frank and open relationship.

Brazil and America are interesting places, obviously, but one thing we have in common is that we are a country—two countries that are able to deal with our diversity in such a way as to strengthen our nation. Brazil is a very diverse country, as is America, and it's those common values that we both adhere to that make it feasible for people from different backgrounds to live in peace and harmony. And we discussed those values, the President and I did. He's a man who believes strongly in democracy, as do I, and rule of law and the right of free speech and the right to a free press and free religion. And I want to thank you for your strong belief and your willingness to stand strong on those principles.

We're the two largest democracies in the world [Western World]. * Therefore, we have obligations to work together to promote peace and prosperity. We started what's called the Group for Growth, to find ways to develop economic possibilities and potential in our respective countries. I must say, Mr. President, I'm impressed by the economic reforms you've put in place, by the achievements you had made through good government policy to encourage growth, not only here at home but to encourage exports.

We're encouraged by the increase of bilateral trade between our countries. I met with some businesspeople earlier today, and they were talking about how important our markets are to each other and that trade is an important way for people to be able to find work in our countries. And good trade is trade where people benefit on both sides of the issue, that it must be equitable, it must be fair, and I'm convinced that's the trade relationship we have on a bilateral basis.

I know you're concerned about creating jobs, and your country has done a very good job of doing so, while keeping inflation down. And I appreciate your understanding that free trade and fair trade is the way to help the citizens of your country. We can have free and fair trade without losing national identity. We can have free or fair trade without penalizing local small businesses and entrepreneurs. And the President is working hard to make sure that the trade opportunities available to the citizens of Brazil are done in such a way that there's a spirit of—there's an equitable spirit involved. And I want to thank you for your leadership on that.

We've got some opportunities to continue to expand trade. I firmly believe that if one wants to eliminate poverty around the world, the best way to do so is to advance the Doha round of the WTO. Now, the President has made it very clear that it's difficult to get a Doha round going so long as there are countries that refuse to yield on agricultural matters, and I heard that loud and clear. And so recently, I made a statement, or a series of statements, that said the United States will reduce subsidies and tariffs, so long as we get the same treatment from trading partners such as Europe. In other words, I just—if we lower the subsidies, we would very much like to be able to tell our farmers the same thing the President wants to tell his farmers, that there's access to markets. And so we made a very strong statement toward advancing the Doha round, the WTO. We've declared our intention, and I told the President I was very serious in that declaration.

And we agreed to work together to advance the round. It's in the workers of Brazil's interest that WTO advance. This is a vast country with great resources and a workforce that's hardworking, and the more products that Brazilians can manufacture and sell overseas, the better—more likely it is people will be able to find work. And so one of the interesting things that has come out of this meeting is a renewed commitment to working together to eliminate poverty by creating opportunity through international trade that's fair, that's fair for the people of Brazil and fair for the people of America.

And along those lines, we continued our discussions that was taking place in Argentina. There is an opportunity to advance trade, and we agreed to speak about that and how best to work together, for example, to be able to compete with countries like China or India. It's in our interests that we work together on a trade agenda. I call it the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas; I think you refer to it as ALCA. And the President said, "Look, let's work together on Doha and see how that goes, and we'll continue to working on the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas."

It's important for the people of Brazil to understand that such an agreement will not be done if the President thinks this isn't in the interests of the people. I've got to—he's got to be convinced, just like the people of America must be convinced, that a trade arrangement in our hemisphere is good for jobs, its good for the quality of life. And so I look forward to continue to work on international matters and regional matters as well as bilateral matters, Mr. President.

I want to thank you for your leadership around the world and in the hemisphere. I want to thank you very much for your commitment to Haiti. There's elections coming up soon, and the Brazilian presence there has made it more likely those elections will go forward in a free and fair way. You're a—you've taken a responsible position, and I hope your country is proud of the fact that you've seized this moment.

I want to thank you as well for working on HIV/AIDS with the United States. Like you, we share a deep commitment to help those who suffer from this pandemic. And like you, we do more than talk; we act. And as a result of our combined efforts, hundreds of thousands of people are getting antiretroviral drugs, and that's important, and I want to thank you for that.

One of the things that I appreciate about the President is he fully understands that narcotrafficking and terrorism can disrupt the democratic way of life. And Brazil has been strong—strong in working with other countries to prevent a few criminals or thugs from disrupting our way of life, and done so with constitutional guarantees in mind. We always keep human rights in the forefront of our policy. But we also know that we must work together to prevent those who would murder the innocent or those who would pollute the bodies of our young from being able to do so. And I want to thank you again for your leadership on that.

This has been a constructive trip, constructive because, Mr. President, I enjoy working with you, constructive because you're frank in our discussions, and constructive because together we can do some good for not only our own people but for the world. Thank you very much, sir.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:22 p.m. at the Granja do Torto. In his remarks, he referred to Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, wife of President Lula da Silva. President Lula da Silva spoke in Portuguese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

* White House correction.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil in Brasilia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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